The strange tale of Lamb Island

·3-min read
Uri Geller (left) at the Scottish Seabird Centre, North Berwick, as he prepares to spend the night on Lamb Island in search of Egyptian treasure in 2010
Uri Geller (left) at the Scottish Seabird Centre, North Berwick, as he prepares to spend the night on Lamb Island in search of Egyptian treasure in 2010

An uninhabited and, on the face of it, fairly nondescript Scottish island finds itself in the news again courtesy of its eccentric, publicity-loving owner

Which island?

Lamb Island, also known as The Lamb or just plain old Lamb, which lies in the Forth estuary just off the coast of North Berwick. It’s the one which isn’t Fidra or Craigleith.

Big place?

Only if you call 100 metres by 50 metres big (or 52,000 square feet in old money). Still, it’s large enough for a sizeable community of cormorants, guillemots, puffins, kittiwakes, fulmars and herring gulls to call it home.

And the owner?

None other than Uri Geller, who needs no introduction to readers of a certain age – those who remember his jaw-dropping stunts and performances on British television in the 1970s. If that isn’t you, then Geller, now a sprightly 75 and living in his home city of Tel Aviv after many years in the UK, is a magician, illusionist and self-proclaimed psychic whose most famous trick was his apparent ability to bend spoons and forks simply by rubbing them. He could also make watches run faster or slower than they should, and he proved a bit of a whizz at dowsing into the bargain. All these feats he performed using a form of telekinesis. Or so he claimed. Naturally he has had his critics over the years, though he has also won some important and influential friends. One was pop singer Michael Jackson, who was Geller’s best man when the Israeli renewed his wedding vows in 2001. Geller has also written books – both fiction and non-fiction – and is one of that select group of living people to have a museum devoted to them (see also Cristiano Ronaldo, Jackie Chan, Arnold Schwarzenegger).

OK. But why Lamb?

Ownership of the island traditionally lay with the feudal barony of Dirleton (mediaeval Dirleton Castle, with its fine 16th century gardens, lies a few miles west of North Berwick). In 2000, Brazilian businessman Camilo Agasim-Pereira bought the title and with it the island. “There are interesting rocks” was about the only thing the estate agent in question could find to say. Then, in 2009, enter Uri Geller, who paid for £30,000 for the island and has since claimed it is as the hiding place for a hoard of ancient Egyptian treasure. In 2010, he and a companion spent a night on the island looking for it.

Seriously?

Oh yes. His theory turns on the fact that the layout of the islands of Lamb, Fidra and Craigleith seems to mirror the layout of the pyramids of Giza (or rather the other way round, as the islands were obviously there first). Second, he points to a 15th century Scottish chronicle which claims Scotland was founded by Scota, exiled daughter of an Egyptian Pharoah.

And the latest headlines?

All on account of Geller’s apparent decision to turn his private fiefdom into a so-called micro-nation, with its own flag, national anthem and constitution. “Lamb is a place like no other and it deserves its own identity,” he tells the BBC. “This is a fitting way to do it.”